This is the official end of the Bush Administration. Yes, he'll hang around the Oval Office for another couple months, but it's over. It's done. Everyone get to work on your obits! What happened today that finally signaled the end of the era? Bush surrendered, completely, to the reality-based community. Ron Suskind, whose work chronicling the Bush administration has basically been the best political journalism of the last eight years, is responsible for that legendary phrase. In a 2004 piece for the New York Times Magazine, Suskind quoted an unnamed Bush aide (Rove?) as saying this:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
That is basically the mission statement of the Bush presidency. Let the political wing dictate policy, and fit the facts around that policy. Deny the legitimacy of information that doesn't fit your worldview. Create your own reality! It's been fun. It got us into Iraq! And the financial bailout bill was originally sold in the same way Iraq was sold. The problem was laid out along with its solution. The solution was needed urgently. The solution involved handing over unprecendeted power to the executive branch without oversight. Experts disliked this plan! So Congress, which is now controlled by Democrats, actually sort of did part of its job, and passed a modified, more responsible version of the bill. And now, weeks later, Bush has done something weird and unprecedented: in calling for nationalization of US banks, Bush has actually given in to "experts" like economists who called on him to do something that didn't fit with his political ideology! And it only took him eight years to become a vaguely semi-responsible president. Good work, reality-based community! You really asserted yourselves there, eventually, after the damage was already wrought.